Privacy organizations have strict requirements for apps against corona

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Experts in information technology, computer security, and privacy are concerned about the violation of people’s rights by apps to combat the corona crisis. The apps should be safe, temporary, transparent, completely anonymous, voluntary and user-friendly, without commercial ulterior motives, experts write in a manifesto.

Director of privacy organization Bits of Freedom Evelyn Austin: “Such an app should only be rolled out if it can be demonstrated that it is a necessary and effective means. The government must then guarantee that the safety and privacy of people is guaranteed.”


The signatories of the manifesto are an occasional coalition of, among others, Waag, Bits of Freedom, the Civil Rights Platform, Code for NL and AI Now Institute. They write, “If the system now being developed does not meet our requirements, this coalition will tooth and nail resist its implementation.”

Writers and journalists such as Maxim Februari, Marietje Schaake, Roxane van Iperen, Brenno de Winter and Sjoera Nas have also signed the manifesto.

Marleen Stikker, director of Waag and initiator of the manifesto: “I see insufficient guarantees that the minister accounts for guarantees. For example, the app must not be in private hands, but in public hands. There must be no central data storage. that an app is really used for the idea that people can inform themselves well and not that the government intervenes through that app. “

The government wants smartphones to become weapons to identify and contain the corona virus. Bluetooth will play a major role in this.

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The privacy organizations believe that the app should only be used to get the virus under control. They also believe that the apps should be directed by independent experts.

Bart Jacobs, professor of computer security and chairman of the Privacy by Design (IRMA) Foundation, calls trust and support for the apps a requirement. “That requires maximum transparency, security and privacy, independent direction, and no hidden ulterior motives that the ICT sector is unfortunately known for.”

Temporary app

According to the organizations, the application and the data collected by the government may only be used to control the virus, “and not to enforce policy, to determine whether someone is eligible for (a reimbursement of) care or for commercial purposes “.

It must be clear beforehand which factors are important for the effectiveness of an application, such as the percentage of the population that must use the app. “The application must have been pre-tested on a limited group of users, on the basis of which it can be demonstrated that this application is necessary and effective,” write the authors.

The deployment of an app is, by definition, temporary, according to the manifest. “If the application is no longer effective or necessary, the roll-out will be reversed. This can also be the case if social unrest has arisen about, for example, the security of the application.”


“We understand that it is important that a large part of the population uses this application. This is possible if everyone understands the seriousness of this pandemic and can be confident that this application respects the fundamental fundamental rights of the user. The application must be temporarily switch and be permanently removable. Refusal of use must not have any negative consequences. “

Earlier we examined what the Dutch government is already allowed to do with our data and which privacy questions a similar app in Israel raises:


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